That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

You Will Certainly Not Die of Hunger Here

1466 results for PIZZA in ROME - and I'm positive that's incorrect. Surely, there are lots and lots more. A lot of businesses in Rome are still missing from many internet searches as well as from the yellow pages. Even so, at 1466 that's still a lot of pizza.

I'm often asked if I like pizza in Italy and how I rate it compared to the American version. That's a bit tricky. I mean, I like Italian pizza, so, I can honestly answer YES to the first ... it's the second question that sometimes gets me in trouble. Before I go on to say that I prefer American pizza and then get a lecture about how American pizza isn't real pizza, but just another perfectly perfect ethnic food that the fat lazy Americans have defiled and desecrated ... let me clarify. I do like pizza in Italy, the real original pizza, I just happen to like the round bready things with tomato sauce, cheeses, meats and vegetables baked in an oven and usually cut into triangular slices that Americans call "pizza" a little better. That's all. Maybe it's not real pizza. Maybe we make the bread too thick with too huge a crust; maybe we use too much cheese and too much sauce; maybe toppings are too plentiful and too dispersed; maybe we put pineapples on them; maybe we sprinkle parmesan cheese on them or red pepper flakes or we dip it in the ranch dressing that is meant for the buffalo wings we eat simultaneously; maybe we have chicken alfredo versions -- regardless of any of these horribly unorthodox ways of serving this, so called, pizza, it just tastes better ... to me, anyway. 

Really. It's a difficult thing to explain. They're both called pizza and  I know that in New York City and other places where Italians of old have emigrated, lived and passed on, there will be the rare pizza pie that may ever-so-closely resemble the real Italian thing. But generally speaking, most "pizza" in America is the Pizza Hut variety. Personally, I never really liked Pizza Hut pizza ... I'm more of a Round Table Pizza kind of pizza eater. At any rate, you know what I mean. So, basically, the American pizza and the Italian pizza are the same things ... but Oh! They are so very different too! And that's why I'm in a bind when asked to compare the two. You can compare Pizza Hut and Round Table Pizza, like I just did. You can compare Little Caesar's to Papa John's. You can compare Mountain Mike's Pizza to Dominoes. You can't really compare Italian and American pizzas in the same way. They're just too different. But yes, I prefer American pizza. I prefer chicken over turkey, I prefer lasagna over cannelloni, I prefer chicken tenders to chicken nuggets. But I like turkey and cannelloni and chicken nuggets. I don't know if I'm explaining myself well. 

No matter. There's lots of pizza here and that's what's important. But there's only the real Italian deal ... and though I like it, I really really miss the American kind. I'd even settle for a slice of Pizza Hut pizza. 

** By the way, among my Italian students who have been to the US and have tried American style pizza, all, but one, said they preferred the American version. Among the many American short term visitors to Italy that I've met and befriended, most say they love love love Italian pizza. I've never asked if they prefer it over the American kind, so I don't know if they love it for the Italian pizza that it is, or if their love for it goes above and beyond their love of the American pizza. 

What do you think? Is one a better pizza than the other? 
Or are they so very different, is it silly to even make a comparison? 
I'm rooting for the latter.

If you've never had pizza in Italy, there are a few different kinds, even here.

There's the classic, traditional pizza baked in a wood fired oven: round, thin pasta, as the Italians refer to the pizza bread, the "crust" is not raised at all but is simply the pizza border, the sauce, cheese and toppings are sparse compared to what Americans typically see, and while it is possible to ask for individual ingredients, they are more often ordered by name: margherita (tomato sauce and mozzarella), capricciosa (prosciutto, black olives, mushrooms, artichoke, boiled egg), patate e salsiccia (potato and sausage), ortolana (various garden vegetables) and so on. These pizzas are usually found in restaurant style pizzerias which can be eaten there or taken home.

There's pizza a taglio (pizza by the slice) and these are usually thicker, baked into long oval or rectangular shapes. This is more for those on the go or those wanting take-a-way pizza. You can order a whole pizza, but normally, you walk in (often it's a very small service area, just room enough for customers to see the various pizzas on display and make their orders), decide which pizza(s) you would like and the clerk will indicate a portion by using his spatulas/knives. The customer decides on the size saying di più or di meno (more / less) and the pizza is sold by weight. Often the cut slice is long and thin so the clerk will fold it over on itself and cut it into smaller portions after heating it in the oven, wrap it half way with wax paper and then hand it to you ready to eat. Or if you're taking it home, he'll cut the strips of pizza you've asked for and then cut those into smaller portions before placing them square by square or rectangle by rectangle into a pizza box. These kinds of pizza shops will also often have a variety of breaded and fried foods, as well, and even roast chicken. Here the pizza variety is up to the pizza maker and the only way you'll get one with precisely the toppings you want is if you order a take away, round pizza or even a larger rectangular pizza -- the point is, you'll have to make a special order, otherwise, what you see is what you get.

There's the kind of pizza you'll find in supermarkets and other food shops. This kind of pizza is meant to be eaten cold, or rather, room temperature. The pasta is saltier, denser and thicker. These pizzas come in many shapes, sizes and varieties. A lot of pizza bianca is sold here (also at the pizza a taglio shops where you can have them piping hot). It's basically just pizza bread, usually a bit salty and slightly greasy. These are often eaten as is and is especially popular as a snack for small children. Many on lunch break from work use it as bread to make sandwiches. They'll go into a food shop, get a slice of pizza bianca and then have the clerk cut into it horizontally to be stuffed with some choice of cold cut. I use pizza bianca to make the best tasting Nutella sandwiches. So Yum.

And the only other kind of pizza that comes to mind at the moment is fast-food type pizza. I would say that this is the pizza that most closely resembles American pizza, but even then, it's really not the same, at all. This kind of pizza is bread-ier and dough-ier than the typical Italian pizza and usually has a noticeably raised crust. They come as advertised in the overhead menu at the register so you can't ask for specific toppings. Like most Fast Food places, they can be ordered as a combo meal with fries and a drink. 

1 comment:

ℜεḓ ṧhüʟαмїтα said...

papa johns and dominoes all the way!
how i miss them!